Can passion be taught? – part 3 – the key is producing

passion graph

Updated Oct 10, 2008 – Nirmala, a KM professional joined the conversation with several insights on her blog. Thanks for the link Nirmala.


Teaching passion is one of my favorite areas. I started thinking about this again because i felt we have not been able to package the superb discussion that this topic has generated. Lots of people contributed to the discussion, but the main sparks were – Larzini’s Viral Passion idea, Milind Sathe’s Trigger, Sujatha’s 3 categories of people, Priya Raju’s Big Picture , Ganesh’s Learnt Vs. Taught and finally Archana Raghuram’s passive passion.

That insightful comment of hers has been ringing in my head for a while now. A few days ago, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

3 levels of passion

Where does being passionate about something lead you? It makes you better in that chosen area and depending on the degree of passion you have, you can truly become a world-class expert in that area over time.   The light bulb moment occurred to me, when i realized the connection between expertise and passion.

1. No passion – you just like music or cricket or dance or whatever, but the liking is not strong enough to even be at the passive passion level. In this case, the expertise over time grows at a snail’s pace. This is the lower most trajectory in the diagram above.

2. Passionate Consumer – you are passionate about something – you have a strong/distinct liking for the topic. You start gaining expertise. This is the second trajectory in the middle. Expertise grows more rapidly over time compared to the no-passion category.  For instance, i am passionate about music, and due to that i know a bit about music. I could not call myself an expert, but i know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

From Larzini’s comment, you can say that people that are virally passionate are also at this level. They are passionate about something, they do produce, but not yet that passionate – thanks to the infectious passion of the leader or a friend or a trigger or a powerful goal/vision.

3. Passionate Producer – You are so passionate about something, that you actually start producing/practicing. If you are passionate about paintings you start painting etc. The act of doing something/producing something that can either be self-critiqued or critiqued by others creates a powerful feedback loop in your brain pushing you to a greater and greater degree of excellence in that topic.  This is the third trajectory in the diagram above which shows expertise growing much more rapidly.

How to become passionate?

If you integrate all the 3 categories, you can see that exposure to new topics can help build passion, immersing yourself in that activity can increase the passion to the 2nd level and starting to produce can take the passion to the next level.

Ambition can provide the fuel for passion. In the corporate context, setting a powerful goal or creating a powerful vision can be that fuel to create viral passion. In all 3 levels, associating oneself with passionate people can have a great impact. Even if you are an expert, associating with other passionate experts can increase your expertise further.

A sense of competition can help create powerful goals/visions. As long as the competition is healthy, competition is a great driving force.

Although, technically you can become an expert in anything you choose to apply your passion to, making sure you have the aptitude for the topic, is important. Again a wide-ranging exposure may help you determine the things that you have the natural flair for.


Recently we did some surveys inside our company and we found that passionate bloggers and passionate musicians (our Euphony band that i talked about) are top performers in the company. Once you are a passionate producer in something, that rubs off on everything you do including your job. If you look at it from another point of view, you have figured out how to build world class expertise. So you can apply that ability to gaine expertise to your career.  Career progresses when your expertise in the job improves.

If you are a leader, you can use this insight to make your team passionate about any type of producing activity (may not be business related) and then transfer that passion onto the company’s business. Aside from this, also explain the big picture, ambitious goals/vision to light the fire.

It is this fire that can launch the rocket ship as indicated in the diagram above.


In sum, passion can be taught, scratch that, it can be learnt. And once you are passionate, success follows.


I am sure there are some gaps in this. What do you think?

Notes & References:

1. The diagram above is an attempt to summarize this post – inspired by Kathy Sierra – Creating Passionate Users.

2. How to become an expert

3. Why effort/practice is more important than talent.

4. Are you an expert? – Charlie Munger’s wisdom on the topic.

5. For a neuroscientific rationale for why feedback improves performance/expertise – ABC Theory.

6.  To be accurate, each of the 3 lines in the above diagram should be an S Curve. I chose straight lines for making the diagram simpler.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Quora trackbacked Posted January 25, 2011, 7:20 am

    What do you do if you’re ready to quit a 9-to-5 job but don’t have an idea that you’re passionate about?…

    Saying that passion is a key ingredient is to state the obvious. But like yourself I have no preconceived passion. I work passionately on whatever it is I decide to do. For people like you and me this strategy works better instead of trying to find the…


  1. Quote
    Sujatha said May 24, 2008, 6:53 am:

    Brilliant Post Sukumar. I compared my interests\passions and not so interesting categories against the chart and BINGO, it matches and i totally agree with the chart.

    As your end note says, “Passion can be learnt or taught” only if the person is also equally passionate about the area\topic. Let me give you an example, Think of a movie star or a music director\singer’s children get into their parent’s field, Do they all excel?, NO. Only some do, Why?

    As Children they would have grown being exposed to their parent’s singing or acting field a lot. But as they grow up if they really had a passion\drive by which they made their choice to become an actor or musician they would excel better. Even though Sivaji’s Ganesan(veteran tamil actor)’s grandson wanted\tried to act in movies, it never worked. But on the other end,Seerkali Govindarajan’s(Veteran Singer) son Sivachidambaram was a Doctor by Profession but he excels in singing as a career. So that is where i see Passion making the Difference? Although they are exposed or taught, the inner Passion is what drives one self to go achive greater heights in life.

    So i would like to add, “Passion can be Self Learnt or Self Taught” not forcibly Taught by others. Do you Agree?


  2. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 24, 2008, 11:06 pm:

    Thanks Sujatha. Insightful point. Those are great examples. Is it possible that when you don’t have the flair and you are being virally passionate (because of the talented father in the 2 examples you have given) you can’t reach the highest levels? Another example
    Mandolin U Shrinivas is a prodigy and popularized Mandolin in Carnatic Music. Later his brother U Rajesh took to it as well. I have listened to both of them and both are extremely good. But then U Shrinivas being the pioneer hogged the limelight. So there may be some element of market dynamics in play as well.

    Yes, no one can be forced to learn anything let alone passion if they don’t want it. Let us see what the others have to say, and i will amend the post.

  3. Quote

    Great post Sukumar. I could relate to my personal experience in the area of Symbology. I moved from being a passionate consumer to a passionate producer.

    I sort of disagree with you competition theory. When you become passionate because of competetion, peers or goals set by a leader it is an artificial atmosphere. The passion lasts only as long as the conditions last. In the absence of competetion your passion also dissipates. In order for the passion to be sustainable, we have to reach state where we derive happiness out of what we do. It does not matter what others think or what appreciation you get out of it.

    It order to be truly passionate, you need to be internally focussed. The pleasure you get out of it is your own. Others may or may on understand or appreciate what we derive out of it.

  4. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 25, 2008, 4:27 am:

    Thanks Archana. Interesting point on competition. I have been thinking about competition a lot these days and i don’t think i have understood when competition is good and bad. At this point i am asking – Why should Competition necessarily be bad? For instance, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Roger Federer are intensely competitive and that is one of the hallmarks of a great champion. If we said, they can’t be competitive, it wouldn’t work, right?

  5. Quote
    Subba Muthurangan said May 25, 2008, 1:02 pm:


    Great post. I think the following 3 are major factors to shifting from no passion to passion producer paradigm.

    1. Positive thinking
    2. Introspection
    3. Competition

    Positive Thinking
    This is something very basic. When we are exposed to a new thing, first thing come to our mind is “can i do it?” But if we are in constant loop of “can i do it”, we will quickly withdraw from it and it remains as no passion. It is simple to come out this loop, all we need to do is just put “I” first and “can” second. So “I can do it”.

    Always introspect to find out what we are lacking? What is the quality we are missing? This is something most of us not willing to do after some point of time in our career. After 8-10 years, we always think that we are the best and there is nothing to improve on. Since we missing this introspect, we are not willing to take any new things as passion and remains as no passion. But the truth is, we are not even 10% best after 10 years of career, there are lots of things we can improve on. If the new thing helps us to improve our self, why can’t passionate about it and produce something.

    Competition is really important, but the question is with whom. We have to make sure that we are in competition with “alike or little more than us” competitor. If our competitor is more stronger than us, then we get discouraged that we can’t achieve the same result as our competitor. If our competitor is weaker than us, then we can’t become passion producer, the competition itself drag us down.

  6. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 26, 2008, 7:30 am:

    Very insightful Subba. Excellent points. Did you see Archana’s comment above on competition and my response? In general competition tends to get a bad rap. But as you say, it is quite important for bringing out the best in people. You say, when our competitor is much stronger it is demotivating, but i am not sure that will be true of everyone? Some people excel as an underdog and beat the strong competitor – david vs. goliath for example. I guess we do need some more insights on when competition is good and when it is bad? Overall, i could not agree with you more that competition is important.

  7. Quote

    Excellent post Sukumar! All the comments are interesting too. I agree with Sujatha in that Passion can be “Self-Taught”/”Self-Taught”. For eg, my brother is very passionate about sports. We have had loads of discussions about sports/sports-related info, however that passion never rubbed onto me because deep down I was not willing. So no matter how many discussions or knowledge I have about the subject I may not be passionate about it.

    Virally passionate makes a lot of sense. It is one of the major reasons I am passionate about a few things.

  8. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 26, 2008, 11:18 am:

    Thanks Saraswathi. Yes, the comments are superb as always. In my case too, my first passion was viral.

  9. Quote
    Subba Muthurangan said May 26, 2008, 4:41 pm:

    Thanks Sukumar. I think i didn’t explain correctly about competition in my first comment. Here I’m trying to explain it again. Yes…I agree with you that there are several underdogs emerge from nowhere to beat veterans of a particular field. But I believe that those are extraordinary mental toughness people. But most of the genaral population has a tendency of last minute self-doubting when we try to passionate about something, in order to avoid that we can set our bar lower first and then progressively develop as passionate producer.

    Competition is the only way to setting our bars, how do we know that we are doing good or bad? The competition is the tool to measure our developments, at the same time we shouldn’t obsessive with competition. For example, NFL football teams always have 2 running backs, one will be the starting running back and other will be back up. They share load 60:40 ratio. If backup carries ball more yard than starting running back, most probably next game backup running back will be the starting running back. The coach try to create competition here, just to give an indication that running back’s bar set little high than previous game. Is it bad? I don’t think so because it is good for both the running backs and team. At the end, team’s winning is important in coach’s mind and he is trying to create passionate running back for his team.

    Competition should be constructive and everybody should benefit from it. At the healthy competition environment, we shouldn’t directly compare each other rather set bar high from the statistics, that we got from comparable peer, and give more chances to rebound from mistakes and we should avoid “winner takes all” competition.

    I took some notes from for this comment.

  10. Quote
    Ananth said May 27, 2008, 7:18 am:

    Hi Sukumar,
    Interesting post. I feel that eventhough competition, association and exposure can help create interest in one topic, we should enjoy what we are doing to be passionate in that and really start contributing. I agree with Archana on that. Eventhough competition can force us to stay up in the game, it is just that we will be doing that to stay up and be in the game… when we start enjoying what we are doing, then surely our creative powers will be more.

  11. Quote


    Interesting post. I like the 3-stratas approach, especially the producer+aptitude for level 3 and trigger+exposure for level 2. As you rightly point out, for level 3, having the right aptitude will make it easier in becoming an expert (outside of being passionate).

    I am somewhat uncomfortable with “passionate bloggers and passionate musicians are top performers” comparison. That might be too stereotypical and might cause Pygmalion effect. I agree that if you are a passionate blogger, you tend to become an expert over time in the area that you are writing about. 1) You are voicing your opinion 2) You are substantiating your opinion and willing to stand/fight for it and learn in the process (if it’s well researched) 3) You are learning more about the subject before you start writing something about it.

    I see some of the comments on competition – My take is, we are confusing “Having a competition” from “Being competitive”. You have to be competitive for you to execute #2 above. It might be tough otherwise to build strong passion.

    Personally, my problem is not being passionate, but sustaining that passion over long periods of time. If you have a pill for that, you can make a killing with me.

  12. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 27, 2008, 8:43 pm:

    Thanks Subba. I see your point now. If i understand you correctly (?), you are saying – only a few people have the mental toughness to immediately take on the biggest in the field and that most people are better off just competing with a slightly better competitor and try to beat him/her. I really liked your running back example.

  13. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 27, 2008, 8:47 pm:

    Thanks. You are right, ultimately it will boil down to intrinsic motivation to bring out the best in you. However, i feel that competition as a factor is generally given a bad rap without understanding when it works and when it doesn’t. Look at Subba’s comment, he talks about the competition between 2 running backs. That type of egging each other forward can create a good motivation to improve. As i also said above, Federer, Jordan, Woods etc wouldn’t be where they are at without that intensely competitive streak and the will to win. In fact these people play the best, when the competition is the toughest. So there is something about competition which we are not completely understanding yet.

  14. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 27, 2008, 8:56 pm:


    1. I probably didn’t explain my top bloggers and top musicians are top performers thing very well. What i find is that, when you are a passionate producer level in something, you have now acquired a generic capability to be passionate and excel in a chosen field. I think these top bloggers and top musicians are able to apply the same generic capability to their work and excel there also. It can also be the other way around, people who are excelling in their work already took up music and blogging. Even then, the same holds true, they have built a generic capability to excel in work which they are now applying to another chosen field. Does this make sense?

    2. Interesting distinction between competition and competitive. I think you need both. You need to have a competitive streak in you to be in competition. As Subba points out, who you think of as your competition may have a bearing on your performance. Like i say above, somehow competition generally gets a bad rap because it is an in-thing to talk highly about collaboration (which is a powerful force as well). What is your take on the great sports champions? They are probably hyper-competitive and that is why they are able to raise their game to such a high level.

    3. Another interesting point on sustaining the passion. I have a question on this? At what level of passion are you getting bored? Is it when you are at a passionate producer level or a passionate consumer level? I have a hunch on this, but i would await your answer first.

  15. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said May 28, 2008, 10:52 am:

    Excellent post sukumar..

    Personally my thoughts on passion is that when we visualise the cause and outcome, and the effects of the outcome, we start developing the passion.. In passionate consumer, we just know the cause and outcome.. This is more of interests and involvement.
    But in passionate producer, the cause and the predicted outcome is visualised, which gives some sense of challenge and curiosity.
    when we start working on our vision, the outcome doesnt always be the expected one, and we strive to work towards that goal of achieving visualised outcome. We again start to look for alternate way to achieve and try each one.

    Passionate is also about perfection. ie, with already proved/demonstrated cause and effect, we strive to achieve the same level of perfection, and even surpassing.

    some examples are: Euphony Band is a kind of passionate about perfection of existing musics. To produce a perfect music to the liking of the audience. The music is already demonstrated..

    A passionate music director visualises a concept and attempts to create song/album afresh..

    Basically, i feel, all scientists are passionate people.. Great leaders are passionate one.

  16. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said May 28, 2008, 11:06 am:

    I completely agree with Archana on competition and passionate..
    One example i could remember is the google.. I think, google is not in competition with any one.. They have an independant vision that enables them to excel in fields that others could not even catch.

    If they have started out with competition with any one (say for microsoft or yahoo), i am sure, they could not have achieved this height.

    When we lock ourselves in to competition, we lose our independant vision.. Only if we have independant vision, we can live fully in to our passion.. probably, we can learn a lot from outside.. but not compete to any one..

    During my college life, there were two subjects that i got passionate about.. 1. Engineering drawing 2. Microprocessor..

    First few weeks of ED class, i never understood anything.. But at one point, i grasped some basic concepts of dimensions, and started visualising objects in to front view and top view 🙂 .. the next exam, i just got 59 out of 60 marks, even without preparing for it..

    Similarly, for Microprocessor, I was passionate about instructions and outcomes of different combinations of instructions.. Again, in the term exam, i got 57 out of 60 marks without preparing even for single hour..

  17. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said May 28, 2008, 11:09 am:

    And i feel, passions cannot be taught.. It can only be infused.. or imbibed..

  18. Quote
    Subba Muthurangan said May 28, 2008, 7:59 pm:

    I think this will help to understand competition better. Most of us try to study with friend(s) (group study) to prepare for exams. I can think of 3 phases involves in this process

    1. Discovery Phase: We try to find a best study mate for us. I think most of us apply “alike or slightly better” rule here. We need
    somebody who willing to share knowledge at same time willing to accept knowledge from us.

    2. Collaboration Phase: Now we are in collaboration phase, we share knowledge with each other and buy books and discuss lot of
    subject matters.

    3. Competition Phase: If the above 2 steps went well, we can enter into passive competition phase, this is mostly happening when we try to apply our knowledge (exam or game) If our mate scores 85, we setting our self goal for next time 86 ( like how football coach try to bring forward running back based on previous game statistics). This point of time, we can’t obsessive with competition like setting unreachable goals. This is very passive phase. If we don’t have the competition edge, we may abandon our combine study and spend most of our time with TV or movies, or we quit from combine study and go to step 1. As long as, there is some competitive is present, we try to achieve more and more and stay on curve.

    I think the following factors may negatively affect relationships due to the above passive competition,

    1) Some one tries to hide something from other to win competition. From combine study example, we are reading same book, same class and all information out there so there is nothing to hide. Coach giving all tips, ideas to both the running backs, he is treating both of them as important team members.

    2) When we personally can’t handle competition very well, like getting ego with study mate, that’s why, “alike or slightly better” rule is important.

    3) This competition is nothing about winning or losing, it is more about stay on curve to reach our goals.

    I think this is very diluted competition and we can get out of it as soon as both of us achieved our goal, i mean passionate enough to produce something like admission into IIT. I think we have to always enter competition mode with solid exit strategy to make sure that we don’t burn bridges.

  19. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 28, 2008, 10:33 pm:

    Thanks. You are right in that passionate producers possibly have some goal/ambition (visualized outcome as you put it).

    Not sure i agree with all scientists and leaders are passionate bit. Being passionate seems quite uncommon.

    As for your high ED and MP scores, it is likely you have the aptitude for these. Aptitude is a key factor if you want to excel at the highest levels in a chosen field.

    I don’t agree Google is a good example of non-competition. In fact, Google put the then dominant search engines Lycos, Intelliseek, Northern Light etc out of business by producing a better search engine.

    I think competition has a key role to play in excellence. Because competition sometimes produces negative behavior, it tends to get a bad rap unfairly. If there is no competition the entire market economy, competitive sporting disciplines will dissappear.

  20. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 28, 2008, 10:38 pm:

    Thanks Subba. You have written up another insightful example of how competition works. These situations you describe including the football examples are areas that i have never really thought about as areas where competition will help. It is very interesting to say the least.

    I have been wondering more about how in competitive sports and market economics competition seems to work wonders but within a corporation competition generally produces harmful behavior. Any thoughts on why that is the case? Are we doing something fundamentally wrong with respect to competition within corporations?

  21. Quote

    Sukumar – Great post.

    I think that if people get great results in some field thru their passion & if they learn how to make a task in some other field interesting, they’ll be top performers in that field also. The key is finding how & where to channel your passion.

    Not all people are capable of achieving greatness just because they love what they do. Competition is bad when it becomes a rat race & is not primarily based on results or merit. If not, I think it can be very good.

    Competition gets a bad rap because people find it stressful. Plus, it is sometimes a synonym for the Killer Instinct – which gets a bad rap as well. But, by rejecting competition, people reject victory too. True, we all will fail at times. But that means we’ll also succeed sometimes. The hard-earned fruit is always sweeter. Success that comes after intense competition is exhilarating. Which will goad people to do even greater things.

  22. Quote said May 29, 2008, 3:12 pm:

    I am not sure on the passion part as I never given it a serious thgt but then ….Its a wonderful depiction Sukmar..excellant writeup

  23. Quote
    Subba Muthurangan said May 29, 2008, 7:44 pm:

    As an ex-employee of small company for 2 years and successful startup company for 5 years and a big corp. for 4 years, i have some idea of internal competition dynamics.

    Startup/Small company employees are very “competitive aware” people, because we didn’t had a “well cushion” (I mean org chart) above us to observe market active competition. So we were well informed and fine tuned to handle out side competition from our competitors such as “you have to deliver an application with in 2 days to beat the competition”. So we were always positively responding to both internal and outside competitions. I think still Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, E-Bay etc maintaining same hyper competitive environment to stay ahead of curve.

    In big corporations, we have a comfortable cushion above us to manage outside active competition and we (architectures, sr engineers, engineers and developers) no need to know about any outside competition, in fact, most of us don’t know some basic competitor’s information like market share, target growth etc. This is good but the negative side is, big corporation creates “competitive unaware” population over the period of time. Since most of the employees of big corp. are missing this competitive edge, they are negatively reacting to any internal competitions as well as new initiatives.

  24. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 30, 2008, 11:09 am:

    Thanks Priya. I agree on the competition spurring one to greater and greater levels of excellence when done properly. I think it is competition in sports that produces ever increasing performance. In corporations somehow we are not able to produce that type of healthy competition. The point about, some people not able to achieve greatness even when they are passionate about something is a great insight. But do you think that is true more of passionate consumers than passionate producers?

    Thanks. Would love your comments after you have had an opportunity to think about this.

  25. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 30, 2008, 11:12 am:

    You are on a roll man. The competition awareness in small companies and lack of it in large companies is a great insight. That lack of competition awareness affecting competitiveness within large companies is probably right as well. But it seems to me that as companies grow larger, we somehow are not able to setup fair competition. As in sports, i think fair competition can result in excellence.

  26. Quote

    Sukumar – I think it will be true of everyone. If you don’t know what heights could be reached, its very difficult to achieve greatness. Or, fine-tune your skills. Or, make course corrections. Competition is great, because it provides some more reference points.

    Just my thought.

  27. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said May 30, 2008, 9:51 pm:

    Thanks Priya. As Subba says above, competition is essential to figuring out where the bar is. I guess that is what you mean by reference points.

  28. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said June 1, 2008, 12:13 pm:

    Since you have mentioned Aptitude, i think, all passionate people will have the aptitude on the thing they are passionate about… the reverse need not be the same..

  29. Quote
    Karthik.PK said June 2, 2008, 7:13 am:

    Really interesting outlook Sukumar,

    I beg differ on one thing which says that “once you are passionate success follows”…How do we define success in this context…Is it making lots of money or is it having fame or is holding power or is etching your name in History …..
    I would like to take case of J.L.Baird the inventor of Modern T.V.His passion made him overcome all his obstacles and inevent Transmission ..but then his method was totally defeated my Marconi…But then he died in poverty without name or fame….But 60 years down line we see whose medium is more powerful in spreading messages…..

  30. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said June 2, 2008, 7:30 am:

    Not sure we can generalize that all passionate people have the aptitude. I believe if you are passionate about something you can reach a state where you are as good as someone with a natural flair/aptitude for it. Therefore i view passion as a bigger ingredient compared to aptitude. Of course, if you have the aptitude it makes a big difference in the outcomes.

  31. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said June 2, 2008, 7:34 am:

    thanks. That is a good point you are making. For instance, Van Gogh died a pauper but today his paintings sell for millions of dollars. Is Van Gogh successful? I would say yes. But he didn’t benefit directly from his success. Overall, I think if someone is successful judging by generally applied standards of success – recognition, money, fame, power etc, that someone is almost always a passionate person. Now whether all passionate people become successful according to the generally accepted notions of success – perhaps not, as you have correctly pointed out. So you can say, passion is not the only ingredient for success, but passion is a key ingredient. Hope that is acceptable?

  32. Quote
    Sujatha said June 2, 2008, 12:18 pm:

    Passion doesn’t always lead to success but Passion leads to Self Satisfaction of the creater\producer. I had previously mentioned “Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder”, Success is in the eye of the Passionate producer – he\she defines what his success definition would be, it doesn’t have to be recognition, money or fame. It could just be self satisfaction of the creator\producer when it was first created but Passionate creations never go unnoticed, that is one reason some times great creators(like Van Gogh) works are recognized at a later point of time sometimes even after the life time of the creator. What do u think?

  33. Quote
    Karthik.Pk said June 3, 2008, 6:51 am:


    I have to agree with Sujatha ..she just pulled the words out my mouth…..I agree people like Vangogh we more statisfied than successful….

  34. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said June 3, 2008, 7:25 am:

    Thanks Sujatha and Karthik. Sujatha, I didn’t want to introduce more theory – but there is the notion of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators. Generally people are motivated by extrinsic factors like fame, power, money etc. There are some people who are intrinsically motivated. They are in it for themselves and their satisfaction. One could also argue that intrinsic motivation is a higher form of motivation. I am not convinced 100% with that, but i am leaning towards it. Your point about working for self-satisfaction falls under the category of intrinsic motivation and as you correctly said, they may be successful according to their own standards regardless of what the world thinks. The number of people in this category seems to be quite small.

  35. Quote
    Sujatha said June 3, 2008, 8:52 am:

    Sukumar, I agree with you on the extrinsic motivation being a factor for the category of passionate consumer or virally populated group, they need some form of success has motivation to keep going. But, in the case of Geniuses(mostly passionate producers) who changed the world with their creations\inventions, i think were mostly intrinsically motivated because no matter whether they were recognized or applauded they kept moving and never gave up their passion – they did not stop producing their creations until they either achieved\passed away. May be they weren’t in the limelight but still they kept continuing their passion.

    And as you mentioned the number of people who fall in this category are very small and they are one of the greatest producers. Do you agree?

  36. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said June 3, 2008, 10:27 am:

    In general, i think the same. However, that model seems to break down for competitive sports – Roger Federer or Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods are intensely competitive and continuously raise their games above the competition. If there were no competition will they be able to raise their game to such levels? I am not sure about that. And these are Passionate Producers. So it seems to me that in some fields, science, for example, the lone passionate producer coming up with breakthrough ideas is possible. On the other hand, in some fields, competitive sports, being one example, that model doesn’t work.

    What do you think?

  37. Quote
    Sujatha said June 3, 2008, 10:48 am:

    I do agree with you on that. It is true in some fields but not on in all the competitive fields like sports. Even with great Geniuses and prodigies in science and art, the producer must see great results(it can be failure) to get motivated and go further. Sometimes, scientist celebrate their failures like once a reporter asked Edison how it felt to fail 1,000 times. Edison replied, “You miss understand. I did not fail 1,000 times. I successfully found 1,000 ways that the light bulb would not work.”

    Also, i agree with your views on how a person who is passionate producer in one area or field will be putting his best in other areas as well. A passionate person is always putting 100% of his effort in whatever he does, he excels in most of his initiatives.

    The second category with viral passion just needs the drive and some motivation and success to go further. A great teacher\mentor can make a big difference in them.

    What will happen to the third category, how do you motivate or teach them to be motivated\passionate. Do you think it is possible to do it. How do you deal with them in your mentoring?

  38. Quote

    Thanks Sujatha. I agree with you that even prodigies/geniuses need to see results even if it be failures as Edison puts it eloquently.

    I have never really mentored specifically around becoming passionate. I have always thought about how to make people passionate, but since i didn’t know how to do that, i never tried. Now that i have a greater understanding through these discussions, i will try that. Hopefully, i will be able to learn something from that and blog about it!

  39. Quote

    Thanks Sukumar ..

    For sharing your insights about Passion. While I do not have an opinion on whether ‘passion’ can be ‘taught’ .. Your article contained invaluable insights.. and I do agree that initiatives like internal blogs amonsg others certainly go a long way towards ‘ stimulating’ passion among employees in an organization.

    Looking forward to reading (& learning!) more from your stables!

  40. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said June 7, 2008, 6:32 am:

    Thanks for your kind words Amit.

  41. Quote
    Nimmy (subscribed) said October 10, 2008, 3:40 am:

    I put in a comment on this post earlier today….but it seems to have lost its way for some strange reason. (My comments on your other posts found their destination though.) So, please bear with me, while I go “Ctrl+V”ing again. (Thankfully, I saved it as it was a long one).

    Or, on second thoughts, as I wrote a post about this post of yours on my own blog and included a copy of my own comment there….why not simply provide the link to my post this time around? (Sheesh….complex!)


  42. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said October 10, 2008, 7:08 am:

    Thanks a lot Nirmala. Your post has given pointers to several insights. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  43. Quote

    Brilliant post Sukumar. The notion of passionate consumer and passionate producer really makes a hell lot of sense. You’ve put it bang on when you depict the trajectory of ‘practicing one’s passion’ at the highest level and indeed its so true that living the passion on a daily basis and imbibing it in your daily activities could lead to unimaginable results.

    Slightly disagree with you on the aspect of competition enabling passion. I think even if such a scenaario does materialize, the resultant passion would be shortlived since it would be dependent on external factors instead of being innate. So the moment the externalities change the passion would trickle down unless it has truly become innate by then.

    I also feel that passion resuting out of a ‘vision’ would be much more powerful than one emerging from a ‘goal’. Goals get overpowered and replaced by better ones very easily but vision itself leads to the formation of multiple goals thereby expanding the bandwidth for passion.

  44. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said December 5, 2011, 11:24 am:

    Thanks for the kind words. I think “competition” gets a bad rap unnecessarily. Without competition the entire field of competitive sport ceases to exist. Would Nadal be as good without Federer and vice versa? I don’t think so. Please see some insights on competition from Subba above.

    I think Vision and Goal are interchangeable. It depends how we interpret those words. Even in my post I think I have said Vision/Goal due to the same reason.

    I liked your idea of looking at the possibilities or to-be picture of your current job to become passionate. That’s a great insight.

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